Tag Archives: Submissions

And Your Winner, by Submission…: Analyzing 2010’s Emmy Tapes

And Your Winner, by Submission…: Analyzing 2010’s Emmy Tapes

July 15th, 2010

Last week, I wrote a piece for Jive TV which described the next step in the Emmy Awards process, and the ways in which this post-nomination period is honestly more interesting for me than the pre-nomination period: as my Twitter followers have noted, I’m a bit obsessive about the submissions process, where the nominated series and performers choose episodes to represent their work over the past season.

It fascinates me because of how unnatural it is: performers can’t simply put together a reel of their strongest moments from throughout the season, they need to find a single representative episode (which, for supporting players, is cut down to only their scenes), and so what they choose is incredibly telling. For example, the cast of Glee have very clearly been instructed to submit episodes which feature big musical performances: Chris Colfer submitted “Laryngitis” because of the show-stopping “Rose’s Turn,” while Lea Michele submitted “Sectionals” based on her take on “Don’t Rain on My Parade.” These might not be their more consistent episodes in terms of overall material, but musically they are character-defining performances, and Glee has decided that this will be its Emmy focus. And yet, for Matthew Morrison and Jane Lynch, their submissions don’t work as well when oriented around their most show-stopping musical performances, and so sometimes a series’ approach doesn’t match with each performer.

It’s a delicate balance, and one which I think best captures the equally maddening and addictive nature of this process, which is why I will now take a closer look at the submissions strategy from a number of series: for a look at how they look as categories, and for more submissions I don’t talk about here, check out Tom O’Neill post at Gold Derby.

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Handicapping the 2010 Emmys: NBC’s Community

Handicapping the 2010 Emmys: NBC’s Community

July 5th, 2010

[This is part of a series of posts analyzing individual show’s chances at the Emmy Awards ahead of the nominations, which will be announced on July 8th. You can find all of my posts regarding the 2010 Emmy Awards here.]

Community is a great television show, and one that I enjoy a great deal, but I don’t necessarily know if this will equate to Emmy success.

Dan Harmon and company are likely hoping that the series ends up the new Arrested Development: the Russos directed both Pilots, both shows found limited ratings success, and both are self-referential to the point of alienating some viewers (hence the limited ratings success). It’s quite possible that Community could get noticed in the Writing (where they submitted the Pilot and the Pilot only) or the Directing categories (where both the Pilot and Justin Lin’s “Modern Warfare” are contenders), where Arrested Development saw some success, but breaking into the other categories may be considerably me challenging.

The problem for Community is that there are too many other narratives going on this year for this one to necessarily stand out from the crowd. Arrested Development was competing against shows which were nearing the end of their runs: Curb Your Enthusiasm was the closest thing to a hip show when FOX’s much beloved series won in 2004, and it was already four years old. There was no other big new series emerging, and no third year series turning into smash successes in the span of the year: in other words, there were no comparative Modern Family, Glee, or the Big Bang Theory. It also doesn’t help that Community is arriving at a time when two of the entrenched comedy nominees are also single-camera comedies on NBC, so it isn’t possible for Community to be that “one show” which Arrested Development became.

This is unfortunate, because the same sort of creative energy and narrative depth which existed on that show are present here: while the show can at times be silly, its cast represents such a deep bench that it can be silly in a different way every week without feeling repetitive. Its most high-concept episodes (“Contemporary American Poultry,” “Modern Warfare”) were grounded in characters, and the show’s improvement throughout the season was the result of better understanding who these characters are and what role they play within the community college environment. And so the show is filled with supporting players who may have seemed archetypal in the Pilot but who have become key parts of the series’ quality: Danny Pudi and Alison Brie’s work with Abed and Annie have created complex characters without abandoning the wonderful simplicity of their world views, which only makes them funnier as the show goes forward.

The challenge is that, for a show that is quite often criticized for being over-the-top with its cultural references, a lot of Community’s strengths are subtle. While Emmy voters could reward Chevy Chase due to his previous pedigree, they’re unlikely to notice unsung Pudi; while Joel McHale is announcing the nominations and has The Soup to increase his profile, chances are that Brie’s time as Trudy Campbell on Mad Men won’t measure up the same way. I have some faith, however, that the show won’t be ignored as a whole: while the low-profile supporting players are likely to be left off the nominations list on Thursday, there’s a better chance that McHale or Chase could sneak into their respective categories, or that the show could break into the Outstanding Comedy Series race. It may not be the new Arrested Development, but it captures many of the qualities that Emmy voters gravitated to with that show, and so it’s impossible to count it out.

Contender in:

  • Outstanding Comedy Series
  • Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (Joel McHale)
  • Writing for a Comedy Series (“Pilot”)
  • Direction for a Comedy Series (“Pilot” and “Modern Warfare”)

Dark Horse in:

  • Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Chevy Chase, Ken Jeong)
  • Guest Actor in a Comedy Series (Jack Black)

Should, but Won’t, Contend In:

  • Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Danny Pudi, Donald Glover)
  • Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (Alison Brie)

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Handicapping the 2010 Emmys: Official Ballot Miscellany

Official Ballot Miscellany

June 4th, 2010

Earlier this evening, Emmy voting officially began; this isn’t particularly important to us non-voters, but it does mean that the official ballots were released (PDFs: Performers, Writing, Directing), which means that we know who submitted their names for Emmy contention and can thus make our predictions accordingly. In some cases, this simply confirms our earlier submissions regarding particularly categories, while in other cases it throws our expectations for a loop as frontrunners or contenders don’t end up submitting at all.

For example, Cherry Jones (who last year won for her work on 24) chose not to submit her name for contention this year, a decision which seems somewhat bizarre and is currently being speculatively explained by her unhappiness with her character’s direction in the show’s final season. It completely changes the anatomy of that race, removing a potential frontrunner and clearing the way for some new contenders (or, perhaps, another actress from Grey’s Anatomy). Either way, it’s a real shakeup, so it makes this period particularly interesting.

I will speak a bit about some surprising omissions and inclusions in the categories I’ve already covered this week, but I want to focus on the categories that I haven’t discussed yet, including the guest acting categories, writing, and direction, which are some interesting races this year.

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The Zero Sum Game: Why The Emmys Can Never Be Perfect

In writing this editorial, I want to make one thing perfectly clear: I am greatly appreciative of the great work that Tom O’Neil does at The Envelope’s Gold Derby Blog in getting inside scoops on the Emmy Top 10s and creating important discussion about these awards. He is clearly highly committed to this process, and I have great respect for him and his coverage.

But, one of my nagging issues about Gold Derby is its reliance on searching out any potential flaws in the Emmy system and exploiting them in ways that just don’t make any sense. Earlier this week, I was outright flabbergasted at the theory that the reason some favourites didn’t get nominated was because they hadn’t submitted a picture to sit beside their entry on the official list. It’s one thing to mention this off hand (And one voter did mention it to Tom, hence the article), it’s another to turn it into a potential widespread conspiracy. Heck, even his own article listed off all sorts of other competitors who didn’t have pictures but were still shortlisted.

But this is the trend, and a dangerous one. We’re always highly critical of the Emmy Awards process due to the various reformations of the past few years, and while I’m not suggesting that we ignore the negatives in favour of the positives I do think that we need to stop extrapolating grand theories from the exclusions. O’Neil’s latest editorial, continuing to paint his oft-favoured picture of the recent Emmy changes as a conspiracy to get Lost back into the main category, devolves into the usual complaint that the Emmys screwed over The Wire and other low-rated programs.

Has Emmy Wandered Off Base – GoldDerby

And I’m not defending the Emmys’ decision to exclude that great HBO series, but rather defending the system from being to “blame” for the exclusion. While the method that they’ve developed is certainly not perfect, there is no way it can be: like the traditional zero sum game, everything you add to one side will simply be taken away from the other. This journey of Emmy overhaul is likely not over, but every single snub or every single surprise cannot be taken as a pattern to be jumped on, or ironed out. And, this year in particular, the positives seem to have won the day, something that should not lead to such extensive deconstruction of the Emmy process.

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Assessing the Contenders: Comedy Series Catchup (Family Guy, FotC, Office)

[As noted yesterday, I’m a bit behind on my pieces on the various episode submissions for the series prizes at the Emmy Awards. With the nominations an exciting week away, I want to try to get through these before the weekend so that my predictions can start on Sunday. So, some catchup is in order (Although I want to write a bit more about three of the remaining shows, all for different reasons).]

Family Guy (FOX)

Episode Submission: “Padre de Famile”

Synopsis: Peter discovers that he isn’t an American citizen, and after embracing his Mexican roots discovers the struggles of the illegal immigrant in modern America. And there’s fart jokes.

My Thoughts: I’ll admit right now that I am not a Family Guy fan – the show does nothing for me, and while I might watch it on occasion I never feel particularly content with what I watch.This episode is exactly the same for me. It has too much vomit, for one thing, and there are times when its jokes just go one step further than they need to.

But the thing is that Family Guy is also extremely funny, and there’s some great gags here. I particularly enjoyed the 25,000 Pyramid sidebar, and there was some great one-liners all over the place. The episode feels grounded in sitcom traditions with a dash of absurdity, and some of the pop culture stuff was more clever than I probably want to give it credit for.

Panel Potential: This is a bit of a wild card, but apparently it went over quite well in the panels. How well is an interesting question, as the episode features a lot of stuff that older viewers won’t get but also some things they will. It’s also a very “laugh-out-loud” kind of episode, taking a pointed social issue and just having a little bit of fun with it. It was more grounded than most Family Guy episodes, which should help it. Still, the animation issue could hold it back with some more traditional voters.

Flight of the Conchords (HBO)

Episode Submission: “Sally Returns”

Synopsis: After former flame Sally re-enters Jermaine and Bret’s life, tensions flare, apartments are rented, and glass butterflies are blown.

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Assessing the Contenders: Lost – “The Constant”

Lost (ABC)

Episode: “The Constant”

During its resurgence in creative vision during the latter portion of its third season, Lost had a number of highpoints. “Flashes Before Your Eyes” was a complex journey into the series’ murky but fascinating science, “Greatest Hits” was a character piece capable of completely changing the audience’s view of Charlie, and “Through the Looking Glass” used the show’s own conventions against itself for one of the most effective season cliffhangers in a long time.

And yet I think “The Constant,” the fifth episode of Lost’s fourth season, is better than all of them.

Now, I don’t make this statement in spite of those other episodes, but rather out of appreciation: “The Constant” borrows all of their various elements but manages to weave them into a single, cohesive hour of television. It is an episode that, although capable of standing on its own outside the context of the series, also represents the various parts which define the series’ high quality. It is what everything was building towards, the kind of episode that a show can only earn with hard work and practice.

And the final product of all of that work is Lost’s Emmy Submission this year, and it might well be the deciding factor in getting the show it’s second nomination or win in the category.
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Assessing the Contenders: Damages – “Pilot”

[As the Top 10 Comedy and Drama series contenders have been released, and since Gold Derby has been kind enough to grab us the episode titles, I’m going through each submission judging its quality and its potential on the panel. Today, it’s time to delve into one of last summer’s most high profile series, and one with a lot of Emmy buzz.]

Damages (FX)

Episode: “Pilot”

Synopsis: Patty Hewes (Glenn Close) is a high-powered attorney who is known for her cutthroat behaviour and her cruel tactics; Ellen Parsons (Rose Byrne) is a young attorney right out of law school who finds herself becoming tangled in her web. Opening with a bloody Ellen walking the streets, the episode flashes between that terrifying future and the start of it all as Ellen and Patty both get caught up in a civil case with Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson).

My Thoughts: Damages is not a perfect series – it ends up with serious narrative problems that shouldn’t have happened in a short thirteen episode season, and while it ends with a flourish it never quite lives up to the pilot’s potential.

But this pilot is full of potential, and is pretty close to perfect.

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